On June 4th, little Mabel Song came into the world -- my best friend/sister is the most beautiful mother I've ever seen.
Had the honor of photographing for TWO beautiful pieces in Taproot Magazine's latest issue -- WILD. The first was a big batch of summer smoothies with recipes by Sarah Brown Davidson. I photographed these smoothies on a houseboat! Getting away from your home for a photo shoot is such a good well being decision and then I was able to share and taste all of them at the end! The coconut chaga chai was my favorite, but really they're all so good. Find a copy of Wild at a stockist near you to try them for yourself!
Coconut Chaga Chai
Recipe by Sarah Brown Davidson
1 cup coconut milk
3 dates (pitted and soaked in water to ease the blending process)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon chaga powder (this smoothie can certainly be made without the chaga)
Unsweetened shredded coconut for garnish
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass, sprinkle with shredded coconut and enjoy!
It was my first time in the midwest. As I drove in, I watched the terrain of the blue ridge mountains slowly flatten until there were no hills and only fields. I remember the flat and breezy landscape, the warmth of the people I met, the cool air that seemed without boundary. There was a certain lazy ease - the rain would pass through and shower the fields for a bit before the clouds would clear again for the sun. You could look out over the horizon of yellows, oranges, a complementary straight line underneath blue and clouds, to see the rain coming down on another town off in the distance. It felt like there was so much space to breathe, that you could let each of your thoughts go and they would just get carried away on the next passing breeze.
I spent time with Hudson's family - a lavender-salve-making- mother and a ham-radio-enthusiasit-biologist dad. With my own childhood lacking the certain warmth that comes with real quality family time - it was all the more special to join in on his. We played backyard games and I watched as they shared their projects, peering in with a wistful novelty that made me wonder if I was feeling more sentimental than everybody else.
And even though it was the second leg of my own journey, it was the beginning of traveling as a pair with Hudson. I was introduced to his family, and where he spent his childhood years, before we began an expedition of our own.
The journey west began in the south -- back to the oceanside town I grew up in. I lay in the sun all day, right at the edge of the outer banks of North Carolina, wondering why I never fully appreciated such a privilege in my young years. I squeezed in as much time with family as I could, trying my best not to complain about my newly acquired (blistering, eep) sunburn. We went out for ice cream, watched movies, ate our meals on docksides, and just as my family does, took our time. I was the only one to swim, appreciating as much of my last bit of time with the east coast as I could. I stepped into the still cool Atlantic, and soon was ducking in and out of waves, salt on my lips, salt in my hair, I was so happy. Exhilarated, it was there I realized I was really, finally free of living in New York. All my belongings in my car, right now, the road is my home. I took a deep breath and felt ready for this new chapter, a fresh beginning.
And I got to make a quick stop in my second old home, Asheville.
For those of you who know me (or follow me on Instagram) you probably know that I've made my way to the west coast. But for those who don't know anything -- I'm moving to the pacific northwest! For the summer I'll be on the San Juan Islands, underneath the Canadian border, working in a little brick oven bakery - Barn Owl Bakery. I'll be back making naturally leavened, wood-fired bread, and I couldn't be more excited. I'm hoping to use this time and space as a stepping stone to some begin some exciting projects in a special space somewhere in the northwest. Where exactly? I'm not sure yet! The upcoming months will be crucial for determining my landing zone, and I'm waiting to see where I'm led. I'll be sharing the process, my adventures, and recent work as it comes.
My last week in Brooklyn I was buzzing around packing, working on an exciting assignment for Taproot Magazine, welcoming my sweet friend Sophie of Wholehearted Eats into the city, and squeezing in as much time as I could with UK visitor and friend Izy of Top With Cinnamon! One of my favorite quiet breakfast places in Brooklyn is Rucola. The food is simple and delicious, the atmosphere is lovely, and they serve Four & Twenty Blackbirds pie to boot.
So, before I had to go to my shift at Four & Twenty blackbirds, I had a charmed morning sharing breakfast, pastries, and toast with Izy and Sophie. It's so fun to be around others who neurotically photograph everything they eat, paying attention to styling and composition and lighting. Typically I'm in the company of others who are lamenting the fact that their food is getting cold, or that they're having to wait such long time to eat -- but not with these two. We were able to laugh about our experiences photographing food, discussing techniques and cookbooks.
I also had to try my best to play it cool when Maggie Gyllenhaal and her two children came in to sit right next to us. I did my best, I think.
<3 these two.
Same living room, clean and bright, facing the familiar couch and hanging plants, the native white pillows and cushions, bookshelves and chairs. The cars buzz and honk below and the trees that were once bare are now full with lightest green. With the comfort of the familiar around, I also look around and see a covered floor-- clothes to give away, clothes to wash, a half packed worn trunk, and a table in disarray. As I slowly acquired more things here, I feared these changes, the longer I nested, the more daunting the idea of uprooting became. But here I am, the ground a bit muddy underneath me, I'm excited.
And I reflect on the last month, so bursting with experiences and changes and growth, moments of intensity and calm, happiness and melancholy. My first serious hike-- up Breakneck Ridge, a visit to the Cloisters, and to Providence, days walking around the city, a new companion, visiting friends, saying goodbyes. After so many months of cold and hibernation, suddenly I'm pushed out into the sudden sunshine, and who can say what the next months will bring.
The process is beginning. This week is for packing and moving saying goodbyes and changes in all directions. While I rush about, here are some film photos of a recent trip to the Cloisters -- such a beautiful and ancient space.
I sit here in my living room, looking at this empty text box, the cursor blinking blankly at me as I wonder what to share. It is seemingly another normal morning. I've finished my breakfast, listening to the rain on my window pane, brushing under tires on the street below, the cats sleeping soundly in front of me, the city quiet after its first weekend of sun. Another normal morning curled up on this couch, lazing under blankets, acting as if the next few weeks won't bring so many changes. Still slightly obscured that these are my last weeks on this couch, that in just a month my apartment scenery will be replaced with sights of the mountain west, or maybe the desert, I'm not even certain. And while I should begin the process of digging up roots, paring down my belongings, saying goodbyes, truly processing that these home comforts will no longer be mine, I instead choose to sit here. I listen to Hudson type next to me, more honking from cars outside, the rain fast in front of the neighboring apartment buildings. I know this is good. I've grown to love this strange city, the buzzing and interest, the street performers, the daily interchange with people from every country, and of course my pie making family at Four & Twenty Blackbirds, the comforts and harmony of living with Rebecca. I'm ready though, I know. My focus will slowly shift, no longer to finding success, or mostly to being able to afford and enjoy living here, but to how I feel when I wake up, the sights and sounds of morning, what I see when I step out the door, and then hopefully, that those simple sensory experiences will bring me a peace -- a simple pursuit.
Another simple pursuit -- Rosemary bread. As springtime brings a great stir, changes, and restlessness, making bread can be a profound practice for grounding and reflecting, while still maintaining that need for movement. It's such a beautiful ritual and I've found myself often during great changes, suddenly in my kitchen, kneading away at another loaf. Try it yourself!
Simple Rosemary Bread
makes 2 small loaves
3 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
2 teaspoons salt
1.5 cups warm water
6-8 sprigs of rosemary, thinly chopped
I. Measure out 1/4 cup flour and reserve for a clean counter top. Pour flour in a large mixing bowl, and then place yeast on one side of the bowl, and salt on the other. Pour the water in the middle and begin mixing the dough by hand, with a wooden spoon. Mix until the dough just comes together.
II. Then begin to mix more rapidly, for about 5 minutes, until the dough is clearing the sides but still sticking to the bottom a bit. Add water or flour if the dough seems to dry or wet. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
III. Mix the dough again for another 5 minutes and then turn out onto a well-floured surface. Flatten your dough and sprinkle about 1/4 of your chopped rosemary across the surface. Fold and repeat, in 4 stages. Begin to knead the dough by hand (the best part!). Fold the dough into itself for a few minutes until the dough feels firm and solid. You should have a smooth, compact, firm ball.
IV. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and put into a warm space to rest for 1.5 hours. Remove from bowl and punch down, and leave to rest for another 30 minutes.
V. Place dough on lightly floured surface and cut into 2. Round each into a small, firm ball. Let rest somewhere warm for another 45 minutes to an hour. During the last 20 minutes, turn the oven on to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a baking stone or upside down baking sheet to heat as well.
VI. Right before putting in the oven, slash the boules with a very sharp knife. Transfer the dough to the baking sheets and bake for 20-25 minutes.
If you'd like a golden crust pour a bit of water onto the oven floor right after putting loaves in and close the door quickly. You can also put a small pan of water underneath the loaves as they bake -- steam!!
Generally, when taking photos, I (and many, I think) dislike the harsh light of direct sunshine. Midday photos are considered unappealing, without shadows and depth, inferior to those taken in the morning or evening. But right now I'm embracing them.
The weekend past before the weekend past I ventured down to the Shenandoah, staying in a cabin in the middle of the forest. I was working on another exciting assignment for Taproot Magazine's upcoming summer issue, but as these things go, it ended up being a realigning retreat for myself, too. The Saturday was miraculously warm. I woke up to varied bird song and the rush of the nearby stream, sun already shining, the warm air rising beneath the floor boards. I remembered the southern coming of spring of my childhood, I walked around barefoot on damp earth without worry. I laid on the grass, in the sun, for hours. I thought, "This is all I need."
And, as everything around me thaws, my mind follows. I feel unbridled change coming and I wonder where I'll be when this summer issue is released.
"one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade" - charles dickens
I lay in my bed, listening to road sounds, the hum of passing cars, the conversation amongst neighbors, the cold air trickling in through my windows. I remember a quote reminding, listen through the static to hear the music. I filter through the honking cars and sirens to the bird's springtime song, the faint brush of the wind through the trees, my curtains sway in the window, the soft light streaming onto my bedsheets. It is my first day to be alone, and still, in nearly a month, I think.
In keeping with the stir of spring, these days have been of movement and change, beauty and waking up. Last week Hudson and I went on a walk . It was my first day without work in the city, and a moment to reflect and transistion after an enchanted forest foraging adventure in the Shenandoah. And we walked, from the noisier, crowded streets of my neighborhood, passing the filming of a movie and construction scenes, to prospect park in the midst of winter's thaw. We walked by the zoo at feeding time, remarking on the enthusiasm and agility of the seals, all of the children, their noses pressed against the bars, in awe. Looking across the street and I noticed a patch of purple on the hillside, the bloom of crocuses , a small lavender stretch of hope - the coming of spring.
We arrived at the botanical gardens, observing the delicate line between winter and spring, the small patches of crocuses, budding faint green on branches. I loved the cherry trees, so strong and winding, the bamboo stalks, light yet durable. As we passed the Japanese garden, Hudson explained the concept of forest bathing- how in Japan it is customary to walk about in nature, to take time to breathe and literally 'shower' in greenery, as a regular health practice. And breathing in the rich air, observing children playing, one of the few places in the city where strangers smile upon passing, I felt my worries dissipate, truly content with the present. I wondered why the western world doesn't value such practices, how so much, even our health, is made into a sport or a commercial undertaking, yet how simple and beautiful it is to just walk around in the natural world.
I feel I could elaborate forever on my awe of these gardens, the magic of the greenhouses, and the restless excitement this spring is giving me, but instead, this cake:
My lovely and hardworking friend (fellow pie maker at Four & Twenty), Rica, had a birthday just a couple of weeks ago! As a gift for how much she does for us, how forgiving and kind she is with scheduling, her general soothing presence, and simply that it was her birthday -- I made this cake! As we were assembling apple pies one day, she had mentioned her favorite cake - a white cake with lemon buttercream and coconut shavings, and so, I made a mental note and delivered this to her surprise birthday party at our work! The cake is so (yes, the -m- word) moist and goes so well with the lemon buttercream and a thin, thin layer of strawberry jam in between.
White Cake Recipe
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
I. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter two 9" cake pans and coat well with flour, removing all excess flour.
II. Using an electric mixer, cream together coconut oil and butter until light and fluffy. Add in sugar slowly, one cup at a time, making sure each cup is fully incorporated before adding another. Add eggs in one at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding another.
III. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour whole milk, buttermilk, and vanilla into a measuring cup and whisk. Alternating, add dry ingredients and then wet ingredients to butter mixture in 3 stages, ending with the dry ingredients.
IV. Mix until well combined, scrape down sides and bottom of bowl until everything is well mixed.
V. Pour batter into pans, making sure they are evenly distributed. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool slightly in the pans and then transfer to baking rack.
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2 1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream (or milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon zest
pinch of salt
I. Beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed for 2- 3 minutes. Butter should be creamy and smooth with a lighter color.
II. Except the zest, add the remaining ingredients. Mix on low speed until all is incorporated and then increase to medium speed and mix for 3-5 minutes. Add cream if the buttercream seems too thick, or more sugar if it seems to wet.
III. Frost the cake or place in airtight container and refrigerate!
Just a couple of weeks ago, the city snow finally began to melt. We had our first days with temperatures above freezing and I was so elated. Spring is here! I hurried to my bike and breezed around the city - the first bike ride of the year - feeling so excited about what the warmer months will bring.
And then the days have been so pleasantly entrenched with Taproot magazine. While working on projects for their upcoming summer issue: WILD (such exciting projects) and spending time with another contributor, Hudson Gardner, I was so excited to receive my copies of SONG in the mail.
Kirsten Shockey delivered another beautiful piece about fermenting herbs, how to use them, where to find them, and more elaboration on her seemingly enchanted life in the Pacific Northwest. And I had the honor of photographing the story!
Read more in Taproot Magazine's SONG - available in book stores and coops near you.
Victoria, the green northwest mossy home of the sweetest people I know.
Even though my birthday was a month beforehand, they made me the most 'me-ish' cake I've ever seen. Carrot cake with a light sour cream icing topped with a moon phases garland! Their generosity is humbling, moving.
happy belated to my sweet sister friend xoxo
Never do I appreciate a soft bed or warm room of my own than in winter. I wake up slowly and admire the light on my sheets, how my curtains add a soft diffuse to my plants and wall hangings. I lay and appreciate the few moments of quiet and solace before I step out onto the chaotic streets.
And really, these mornings are the few moments where I don't feel so entirely busy. It seems the more I live in a place, the easier it is for my time to be filled up, until I am left with a couple of hours after work -- having to remind myself to schedule in a bit of time for myself.
This past week my dearest friend and the closest thing I'll ever have to a sister came to visit, just for one day. In the most honest way, our time together is always so special and inspiring, and the more I am around her the more I recognize her as a muse and light in my life.
So, we had our day, filled with eating and roaming the botanical gardens, and then more eating. And then the next morning, before her train to Vermont I made us pancakes.
In this cold, snowy season, breakfast in bed is maybe one of the best ways to cozy it up. For yourself or loved ones, there is nothing quite like making food, or coffee, and then taking it back in bed with you before you start your day.
And these pancakes are insane, as Melissa and I ate them, we remarked -- they taste a little like doughnuts?? Something about the citrus, ricotta, and whole wheat flour resemble the taste of lemon crullers, so, even better, right?
- Meyer Lemon Ricotta Pancakes -
makes about 12
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 & 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup ricotta
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp meyer lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh meyer lemon juice
2 tbsp melted butter
I. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soad, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and set aside
II. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs, and vanilla until well combined. Then whisk in lemon juice, zest, and melted butter, and quickly add to dry mixture to prevent too much curdling (a bit is fine!) Whisk into dry mixture until just combined -- batter will be slightly lumpy.
III. Ladle about 1/4 cup onto buttered, non stick skillet, over medium heat. Heat until bubbles form on the surface and then flip! Continue to do this until you are out of batter.
IV. Serve dusted with powdered sugar, lemon zest, and/or pomegranate seeds!
missing these girls and this place so much
Milla welcomed us into her home like we were family. Touring us around her unbelievable island home, she prepared us food (soup and cast iron waffles, amongst others, oy), took us through woods to fairy tale nature spots, nested a little bed for us next to the wood stove, and even gave us a gift certificate to her shop -- Fireweed and Nettle -- to the point where Phoebe and I turned to each other, "are we dreaming? I'm pretty sure we're going to wake up in a ditch".
Really though, all of this, beyond the wooden home with the cast iron stove, the chickens, the light filled spaces, the mossy shed in the backyard, was unreal. The intent -- living a quiet life in a small community, time spent preparing food, working in the yard, afternoons spent walking to the ocean, or through the woods, it seems faraway and full.
And even now that I'm back in the city the inspiration goes, channeling this magic to find that intent here. I feel attached to culture and convenience and the excitement of being busy, rushing around from place to place, but then I see these photos and remember the fullness I felt with these people, the permanent smile, and how often I felt content enough to just listen to my surroundings (and the many stimulating conversations with these two). Inspired more than ever, I shot 3 rolls of film, baked bread, and even drew a bit. And now I'm back, wearing the leather painted feather earrings Milla gifted me everyday, and figuring how I can find something similar on my own.
Vashon Island is the current home of my best friend and sister, Melissa. After breathing in big city air for so many months, I was nearly intoxicated when I took in the fresh forest smells of evergreen and ferns, witch hazel and moss that encompass her home. She lives in a little forest cottage on the outskirts of the island where she has an amazing view of these green island wonders, plus a mossy shed, and lichen draped over everything.
I miss this girl every day, and guess what -- she's expecting!
I'm not even sure where to begin talking about how good it was to see these people again. I stepped right back into the British Columbia fairy tale --everything you see is covered in moss or vibrant greens, always with a backdrop of misty mountains. We drove to an old favorite -- Cowichan Bay -- hoping to stop by True Grain Bakery, sadly closed that day, but it's setting was still more than enough of a destination. It's such an unreal place with little shops right on the bay, a mountain scape peeking below mist and clouds, the cutest floating homes, evergreens and moss and ferns. I can't believe how much I missed Vancouver Island.
.As someone who loves breakfast, but generally leaves herself maybe 5 minutes to quickly eat a bowl of cereal, or a piece of fruit - it's hard to motivate myself to make something very elaborate in the morning. But, with all of the too-beautiful winter citrus available I dreamt up this recipe one morning and have been wondering why I haven't been starting my days with it all along.
Cranberry and Roasted Citrus Millet Porridge with Coconut Cream
1 1/2 cups cranberries
1 blood orange
1/2 cup kumquats, halved
2 tbsp honey
2/3 cup millet
1 & 1/2 cup whole milk or almond milk
2/3 cup water
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 pinch of salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 - 5.5 oz. can coconut milk
I. Preheat oven to 375. Slice ends of oranges off and slice the peel off with a knife. Rotate oranges on side and cut into slices. Pour cranberries, sliced oranges, and halved kumquats into a roasting pan. Drizzle with honey and roast for 20-25 minutes.
II. Add millet, milk, water, spices and salt to a saucepan an bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Let cook until all the liquid has been absorbed. Removed from heat and stir in maple syrup.
III. Open can of coconut milk, scoop the fatty part of off of the top and place into small bowl, whisk until it has reached a whipped cream consistency -- don't overwhisk!
IV. Scoop millet porridge into bowls, spoon roasted fruit on top, and add a dollop of coconut cream!